How to File a Privacy Complaint

At the federal level, your privacy rights are protected by two separate laws:

  • The Privacy Act, which applies to federal government institutions.
  • The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which applies to many private-sector organizations.

Under these laws, individuals have the right to complain to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada if they feel their personal information has been mishandled. The OPC also has the responsibility to enforce certain measures of Canada’s anti-spam law.

IMPORTANT – Your first step before filing a complaint

There are a number of laws in Canada that relate to privacy rights, and various government organizations and agencies are responsible for overseeing compliance with these laws. For example, each province and territory in Canada has a commissioner or ombudsman responsible for overseeing provincial and territorial privacy legislation.

To determine if the issue related to your complaint is one that falls under the laws our Office oversees, please consult our Privacy Legislation in Canada fact sheet.

Complaints against private sector organizations

The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) sets out the rules that private-sector organizations must follow when they handle personal information in the course of their commercial activities. For organizations that are federally regulated, PIPEDA also applies to the personal information of employees.

Note: Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec have general private-sector legislation that has been deemed substantially similar to PIPEDA. If your concern relates to a private-sector organization based in one of these three provinces, see our Privacy Legislation in Canada fact sheet for more information.

File a complaint under PIPEDA

Before filing your complaint with us, please consult our Guide to the Complaint Process. It provides useful information on what matters can be subject to complaints under PIPEDA and what you can expect from our Office. You should, however, try first to resolve your concerns directly with the organization associated with your complaint. For further help, please see A Guide for Individuals – Your Guide to PIPEDA.You may also call our Office, toll-free at 1-800-282-1376. One of our Information Officers can answer questions you may have about our complaints process.

If you choose to file a privacy complaint against a private-sector organization, please use one of these three options:

  1. Fill out the Online Complaint Form
  2. Download, fill out a complaint form electronically, print and mail your complaint (PDF version)
  3. Download, print a complaint form, fill out by hand and mail your complaint (RTF version)

The OPC is committed to ensuring that clients with disabilities have equal access to, and can benefit from, all our public-facing services. If you require accommodation for a disability to help you file a complaint, please contact our Information Centre. An Information Officer will either assist you in making your request or refer you to the appropriate person.

Note: If you are filing a complaint on behalf of someone else, you will need written authorization from that person. Here is a link to the OPC Authorization form.

Instructions

If you use option 2 or 3, send your completed form to:

Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
30 Victoria Street
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 1H3
Inquiries: 1-800-282-1376 (toll-free)

There is no charge for filing a complaint with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and you do not need to hire special advisors to help you with the process.

The personal information you provide on this form is protected under the provisions of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.  Please note that your name and the details of your complaint will be shared with the organization that is the subject of the complaint.

 

Here are some other useful resources:

Complaints against federal government institutions

The Privacy Act sets out the rules for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by federal government institutions. It also gives individuals the right to see the information the government holds about them, and to request corrections.

File a complaint under the Privacy Act

Before filing a complaint with us, you should try to resolve the matter with the help of the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Co-ordinator of the institution responsible for the personal information at issue. A list of ATIP Co-ordinators can be found at: http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/atip-aiprp/apps/coords/index-eng.asp. You may also call our Office, toll-free at 1-800-282-1376. One of our Information Officers can answer questions you may have about our complaints process.

If you choose to file a privacy complaint against a federal government institution, please use one of these three options:

  1. Fill out the Online Complaint Form
  2. Download, fill out a complaint form electronically, print and mail your complaint (PDF version)
  3. Download, print a complaint form, fill out by hand and mail your complaint (RTF version)

The OPC is committed to ensuring that clients with disabilities have equal access to, and can benefit from, all our public-facing services. If you require accommodation for a disability to help you file a complaint, please contact our Information Centre. An Information Officer will either assist you in making your request or refer you to the appropriate person.

Note: If you are filing a complaint on behalf of someone else, you will need written authorization from that person. Here is a link to the OPC Authorization form.

Instructions

If you use option 2 or 3, send your completed form to:

Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
30 Victoria Street
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 1H3
Inquiries: 1-800-282-1376 (toll-free)

There is no charge for filing a complaint with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and you do not need to hire special advisors to help you with the process.

The personal information you provide on this form is protected under the provisions of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.  Please note that your name and the details of your complaint will be shared with the organization that is the subject of the complaint.

 

Here are some other useful resources:

How to make an access request for your personal information

Both PIPEDA and the Privacy Act provide a right of access to the personal information private sector organizations and federal institutions hold about you.

Canada’s anti-spam legislation

Upon the coming into force of Canada’s anti-spam legislation on July 1, 2014, submissions under this law are to be made to the Spam Reporting Centre, the central repository for information about spam-related activity and threats. The collective submissions of many Canadians will help identify possible organizations contravening the legislation which may warrant action. Your submission may also be a matter of interest under the CASL mandates of either the CRTC or the Competition Bureau.